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Did you know that . . . a soldier’s biggest social blunder is called jack brew – making yourself a cuppa without making one for anyone else? That twitchers have an expression for a bird that can’t be identified – LBJ (the letters stand for Little Brown Job)? Or that builders call plastering the ceiling doing Lionel Richie’s dancefloor? Susie Dent does.

Ever wondered why football managers all speak the same way, what a cabbie calls the Houses of Parliament, or how ticket inspectors discreetly request back-up? We are surrounded by hundreds of tribes, each speaking their own distinct slanguage of colourful words, jokes and phrases, honed through years of conversations on the battlefield, in A&E, backstage, or at ten-thousand feet in the air.

Susie Dent has spent years interviewing hundreds of professionals, hobbyists and enthusiasts, and the result is an idiosyncratic phrasebook like no other. From the Freemason’s handshake to the publican’s banter, Dent’s Modern Tribes takes us on a whirlwind tour of Britain, decoding its secret languages and, in the process, finds out what really makes us all tick.

Reviews

A fabulous read for anyone who loves words, and wants to learn some more. Funny, fact-filled and delightful
Jonathan Ross
Wonderfully clever and funny . . . a national treasury from a national treasure
Richard Osman
A fascinating, joyful look at the tribes all around us, from twitchers to taxi-drivers. A must
Matt Haig
I thought only criminals had their own words for everything. Dent's Modern Tribes shows me quite how wrong I was
Lynne Truss
Sparkles with gentle wit, fascinating illustration, and linguistic insight
David Crystal
A brilliant, funny, wise, and illuminating canter through the languages of modern tribes
Richard Madeley
Susie Dent is a one-off. She breathes life and fun into words
Pam Ayres
The keys to the mysterious Kingdom of Jargon
Adam Buxton
This phrasebook is like no other and will help anyone talk the talk - whatever that might be
The Sun
Thoroughly entertaining and illuminating
Independent
Fascinating study of expressions . . . Dent is something of a modern-day Professor Henry Higgins
The Lady
A work of considerable interest and charm, dishing up verbal pleasures and surprises on virtually every page
Sentence First blog